CTC – Corporate Travel Community brings you a roundup of the most thought-provoking and interesting comments from those industry leaders in the know.
easyJet CEO: ‘I never thought that this was going to be a straight line’
easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said he expected “bumps along the way” due to the coronavirus crisis, adding “I never thought that this was going to be a straight line”. Mr Lundgren said: “We need to get back to a place where we can travel safely and fly again with no restrictions in place” and he expects the UK Government to implement a risk based approach regarding travel restrictions.
Seychelles Tourism Minister: ‘We can safely open the country to visitors’
Seychelles’ Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde on the country reopening for international tourists from 25-Mar-2021 said: “We feel that we can safely open the country to visitors… we’re confident that we are in a position to contain and manage any possible [COVID-19] infection”. Nearly 90% of the Seychelles’ population of 95,000 has received the first dose of coronavirus vaccines and 39% have received their second dose.
Ryanair Group CEO: ‘I think people are going to rebel’
Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary said “we can survive” if there is no summer 2021 season, adding “we do want to see people return to travel”. Mr O’Leary said once 80% of UK’s population is vaccinated for coronavirus by the end of May-2021, there “are very little risks”. Mr O’Leary added “I think people are going to rebel”, noting they are “not going to be willing to be locked up… life will return to normal”. Mr O’Leary said coronavirus will be “similar to the annual flu, the annual cold” due to the success of vaccinations.
Air Arabia anticipates steady regional demand in summer 2021: CEO
Air Arabia CEO Adel Ali said the LCC anticipates a “good summer” with regional and short haul recovery driven by pent up holiday demand. Mr Ali said it is unclear if the carrier will return to profitability in 2021, but added there are no plans to raise debt but discussions with the UAE Government about state aid are ongoing.
Airlines UK CEO: ‘It is too early to say what the state of COVID will be’ in 10 weeks
Airlines UK CEO Tim Alderslade stated “It is too early to say what the state of COVID will be in Europe and globally in 10 weeks’ time”, adding “Our focus between now and then must be working with Ministers on a framework for travel that is robust and workable”. Mr Alderslade said any border reopening must be risk based, however also “led by the overriding assumption that as the vaccine rollout accelerates both here and abroad”.
New Zealand govt planning for ‘a bubble that essentially sticks’
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand’s objective is that “once we open [to Australia] to be able to do it safely”, adding information on a timeline to the travel bubble will be “very soon”. Ms Ardern added the travel arrangement is to be conducted “in a way that people understand we may have short term closures and to enable us to have a bubble that essentially sticks”.
Gol: ‘Demand will continue to recover as the vaccine roll-out progresses in Brazil’
Gol CEO Paulo Kakinoff commenting on 1Q2021 financial results, stated that the Gol business model has been the main differential “in overcoming the challenges this crisis has posed to airlines”. He added: “We believe that the current market conditions, while difficult, are temporary, and that demand will continue to recover as the vaccine roll-out progresses in Brazil”.
Arik Air CEO: Government financial support ‘was definitely not enough’
Arik Air CEO Roy Ilegbodu commented on the NGN5 billion (USD12.2 million) in funding provided by the Nigerian Government to support the aviation sector, stating: “What we got was definitely not enough as we could have done with a lot more”. However, Mr Ilegbodu added: “We appreciate the little we got. Something little is better than nothing”.
Groupe ADP COO sees EU Digital Green Certificate timetable as ‘very, very ambitious’
Groupe ADP chief operating officer Franck Le Gall said he believes the timeline on the EU’s Digital Green Certificate proposal is “very, very ambitious” given the pace of progress with other similar projects from air travel stakeholders and other companies. The system would require EU states to issue common, inter-operable and mutually-recognised certificates for COVID-19 vaccination, testing and recovery status for travel within the bloc. European Commission has set a target of implementing the solution by Jun-2021, in time for the peak summer travel period.
IATA CEO: Coronavirus bail outs for airlines to delay consolidation by three to five years
IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said the influx of public money into the airline sector to support the industry during the coronavirus pandemic “will be a factor that will prevent consolidation in the coming three to five years”. Mr de Juniac said that as some governments “have taken big stakes in many of their national airlines”, it will be “difficult for them to sell this asset to any foreign actor and explain that to the taxpayer”.
BAR New Zealand executive director: ‘we’re at least nine months away’ from significant border changes
Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ) executive director Justin Tighe-Umbers said New Zealand Government’s continued funding for air connectivity is not keeping airlines “afloat”, however it “makes an enormous difference for them to be able to operate routes into New Zealand”. Mr Tighe-Umbers added “we’re at least nine months away” from any significant amendments to border restrictions.
UK Prime Minister: ‘things certainly look difficult for the time being’
UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK’s Global Travel Taskforce is scheduled to provide its report on 12-Apr-2021, adding “I certainly hope to be saying some more by 05-Apr-2021”. Mr Johnson said: “Things certainly look difficult for the time being” due to “another wave building on the European continent amongst our friends”, adding “We will see it wash up onto our shores, I have no doubt”.
China Airlines chairman expects cargo business to remain ‘rosy’
China Airlines chairman Hsieh Shih-chien stated he expects the carrier’s air cargo business to remain “rosy” in 2H2021, adding China Airlines will continue to improve services between Taiwan and the US, as well as expanding its presence in the European and Indian markets.
Kenya Airways in talks with potential partners, consolidation expected in Africa: CEO
Kenya Airways Group MD and CEO Allan Kilavuka stated the airline is in talks with multiple carriers to potentially enter partnerships when Kenya Airways’ JV with Air France-KLM expires in Sep-2021. Mr Kilavuka said Kenya Airways is open to JVs and potential mergers. He predicted consolidation among African airlines in future, commenting: “We can get by now, but we will have to consolidate at some point”.
ACCC chair: ‘Australia’s domestic airlines are starting to experience a recovery’
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims stated “Australia’s domestic airlines are starting to experience a recovery in their passenger numbers, but it remains a very challenging environment”. ACCC noted coronavirus presented an opportunity for Regional Express (Rex) to secure the aircraft and pilots needed to expand into major city routes, and its expansion provoked immediate responses from its competitors. Mr Sims added: “With three carriers on Australia’s busiest route, competition has been vigorous and consumers are the beneficiaries of this. Each airline will need to work hard to win over consumers”.
Ireland Minister for Tourism: vital not to raise hopes for international tourism ‘quick return’
Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin said it is “vital not to raise hopes about a quick return to international tourism”, noting Ireland’s priority is to “maintain control”. Ms Martin said Ireland’s Government will provide a coronavirus roadmap prior to 05-Apr-2021.
T&E expects airline industry will need to adapt to ‘less flying, especially corporate travel’
Transport & Environment (T&E) director aviation Andrew Murphy said the new normal produced by the coronavirus pandemic will results in “less flying, especially corporate travel, and the industry must adjust”. Mr Murphy called for governments to invest in “developing cleaner fuels and new plane designs” instead of “subsidising what’s still the most carbon-intensive form of travel”.
New Zealand Tourism Minister: ‘We cannot go back to the tourism model that existed’ before COVID-19
New Zealand’s Tourism Minister Stuart Nash stated planning is underway for a new-look tourism sector post the coronavirus vaccination programme and when international borders reopen. Mr Nash stated “further, structural support” will be needed in 2021, before adapting “to prepare for a new landscape in 2022 and beyond”. Mr Nash said mass-scale international tourism “is unlikely before 2022” despite plans to open a trans-Tasman bubble in 2021. He added, the long term outlook for New Zealand’s tourism “requires more fundamental change… demonstrate we cannot go back to the tourism model that existed prior to COVID19”.